On Gary Neville’s podcast, Bastian Schweinsteiger told a story of how Jose Mourinho banned him from training with the grown-ups.

Jose himself did not even tell Schweinsteiger - he got John Murtough to do it. It all seemed incredibly petty.

The Erik ten Hag-Jadon Sancho stand-off might not quite be in the same class but you do wonder how Manchester United have managed to waste a first-class talent. You do wonder what on earth he is doing at Borussia Dortmund - helping them reach the Champions League semi-finals - while United seem so devoid of inspiration.

At United’s training complex on Friday, Ten Hag gave his thoughts on Sancho’s form at Borussia Dortmund and the German club’s progression in Europe. “It was a fantastic game - Dortmund against Atletico Madrid,” said Ten Hag.

“Great performance from Dortmund and for Jadon it is good news. He made his contribution to the result for Dortmund. But we know Jason Sancho is a fantastic football player, so that is not a surprise to us. That is not the issue.”

So, what is the issue then? To remind ourselves, here is what happened.

After a defeat to Arsenal early in the season, Ten Hag explained that Sancho had not been in the squad because he had not trained well. Sancho then took to Twitter to say he had trained “very well” and told people not to “believe everything you read”. On reflection, it seems so trivial.

At the time, Sancho said that there were “other reasons for this matter that I won’t go into”. And now, Ten Hag has repeated that Sancho’s ability as a footballer is “not the issue”.

What, then, can be so serious that a £73million player on the best part of £300,000 a week - a 24-year-old who should be in the prime form of his career - is strutting his stuff for a Bundesliga club when he belongs to United? Belongs to a United that has won one of its last seven games, has lost 12 Premier League games and has a goal difference of minus one?

On the face of it, Sancho’s exile seems to be down to one blatant act of social media subordination. If that’s the case, then it seems fairly draconian from Ten Hag. If it’s not, then Sir Jim Ratcliffe would probably love to know because Sancho is a big asset whose value is depreciating.

If United try to sell Sancho this summer, they are certainly not getting back the £73million they paid for him. They would be mightily fortunate to get half of that amount. The respected website Transfermarkt lists his current value at £21.5million.

Someone would get a bargain at that price but the more likely scenario is Sancho being loaned out again and running down the two years of his lucrative United contract. Whatever the rights or wrongs, it seems a waste for United.

If Sancho really has been exiled on some major point of managerial principle, fans would probably understand. But, right now, Sancho’s situation almost symbolises Ten Hag’s tenure at Old Trafford. You get the feeling he is trying to do things properly, trying to do things the so-called United way … but never gets it quite right.

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2024-04-21T07:08:44Z dg43tfdfdgfd